- Beijing, 27 April 2003
On 25 April,
the Ambassador of Switzerland met with a number of representatives
of Swiss companies employing large numbers of people in and
around Beijing. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange information
on the status of the situation in and around Beijing and on
the measures taken by the companies with regard to prevention
and contingency planning.
of impact from SARS felt by the companies depends on their field
of business and their geographical location - even within the
Beijing area. Companies in the service industry encounter difficulties
enforcing preventive measures on some of their customers, as
there is little support from the Government side (penalties
etc.). Manufacturing companies are increasingly worried about
production breakdown. Most say that the current panic in Beijing
is as bad as the virus. However, all of them agree that this
is the worst crisis China has been facing in years. So far,
none of the companies has reported an actual or suspected case
of SARS among their employees. None of the companies intend
to repatriate their foreign staff or families. One company encourages
the families of their expatriate staff to leave the country
(on R&R or home-leave packages) and offers help for schooling
of children where necessary. Meanwhile, the following actions
were taken in response to the virus:
strict levels of personal hygiene on staff.
body temperature of staff upon arrival or more often.
or even impose the wearing of masks and gloves among employees
premises disinfected by specialists on a regular basis.
of infrared water-taps (to avoid touching).
individual workplace to home of staff, if possible.
lunch at company cafeteria in shifts (to reduce number of
people in the room).
internal meetings to a maximum of 3 people.
all meetings, seminars and group gatherings within and outside
or stop domestic travelling.
"firewall" between local operation and overseas
unavoidable outside contacts (messengers, visitors etc.) to
restricted area within the company premises. Deny access to
quarantine for local staff during May Day holiday (only one
company went that far).
use of public transport or taxis and organize shuttle transport
obligation to notify employer about contact with high-risk
persons (SARS patients and their relatives, medical staff
local hospitals to establish contacts and procedures in case
of suspected infection among staff (this applies in particular
to companies in the provinces).
detailed information on virus and prevention for local staff
in order to contain panic.
(for sale or for free) masks, gloves, disinfectant, traditional
Chinese medicine etc. to staff in order to contain panic.
SARS-committees on management level (for information gathering,
government contact, contingency planning etc.).
alternative in case one supplier stops operation because of
stock of supplies that are critical to production.
or prepare operation in shifts to prevent infection of entire
to reduce staff (vacation, unpaid leave), if operations decrease
due to SARS.
- In addition,
Dezan Shira & Associates advise companies to consider
the following items in their contingency plans (see http://www.china-briefing.com
up all vital communications or project work and ensure copies
and full instructions if operation must be passed to a remote
location or third party service provider in the event an infection
whether main incoming telephone number can be re-routed to
be answered at a remote location in the event your office
is closed. Ensure telephone bills are all up to date and paid.
a complete overview of work and identify it by vitality. If
you are legally contracted or obliged to carry out certain
functions, or are close to business that would be affected
in the event of a closure, you need back up.
all clients and suppliers contacts are identified with status
reports and action plans written up in the event you need
to pass this to a remote location.
you have contact details of family and relevant consular officials
for all your staff, both Chinese and Expatriate. Inform them
immediately in the event there is a problem. If staff are
to visit doctors or hospitals ask them to inform you who they
are seeing and which location so in the event they are quarantined
you are aware of where they are.
- If your
premises are closed this is likely to be for a minimum two-week
period during which a complete disinfecting routine may take
place. For obvious reasons ensure all important files are
backed up and vital records kept in a safe and secure location.
It may also be an idea to ensure or to sub-contract security
personnel to be on guard, particularly in factory premises,
to ensure no petty pilfering or theft occur. Make provisions
for warehousing of stock if these are scheduled to arrive
during closure and advise all contacts of the down time, providing
business is still obligated to conduct tax filings, payroll
and other maintenance activities, such as payment of bills
and so forth even if there is a problem.